Mohammed Ayyash Mulhim
A Life of Advocacy & Charity
...the struggle to do good
Clutching a Degree of Master of Laws from the University of Leeds in the UK, Mulhim harbored genuine concern for the welfare of Arab workers and a desire to support and educate his people.
On his very first job in Saudi Arabia at Aramco (1951-1956), Mulhim supported the Saudi and Arab struggle for equal rights against the hegemony of Aramco's foreign management at the time. Such newfound thinking would later come full circle with the Saudis ceasing control of national resources from foreign corporations. His early taste of success in activism and advocacy, even though it had cost him his job at Armco, would further reinforce his conviction that only through law and knowledge of the legal landscape would Arab labor evolve.
Mulhim headed back to Jordan in 1956, and in Amman he assumed the role of Legal Councel to the Ministry of Economics. A year later he launched his Law practice in Jordan; often defending labor cases pro bono (free of charge).
Then in 1961, he set a precedent by successfully defending the right to associate for bank employees in the Jordanian High Court; and he’d done so in spite of the enforced Martial Law at the time, which dissolved all Jordanian associations. Another important score for the young lawyer was helping connect the Jordanian Lawyers Association and the Arab Lawyers Union with the International Law Association.
He would help launch multiple labor associations and town councils across Jordan and Palestine; most notable of which were the Palestine Lawyer Union and the Anti-Apartheid Wall Committee.
Mulhim’s relentless advocacy for the defense of labor rights and the right to organize, along with his political affiliations with progressive liberal forces, eventually landed him in prison twice (spending a total of two years in prison between 1959 and 1967).
Detention, however, didn’t deter him, nor did it slow him down; his active support for the underclass continued unabated until his passing in the summer of 2015.
With Israel occupying the West Bank in 1967, and political unrest ensuing in the region, opportunities soon became scarce and Mulhim opted for work opportunities in the Arabian Gulf states. He opted for Kuwait as a base for his practice (Kuwait was then one of the most progressive states in the of Gulf). He would live and work there from 1967 to 1990. In Kuwait he helped form various foundations and civil organizations. Notable was his work on drafting the charter that established the Palestine Welfare Organization in 1985; to which he would also donate funds and stay active for the rest of his life.
In the wake of the first Gulf War in 1990, most Jordanians and Palestinians in the GCC would bear the brunt of the political decisions of their respective leaderships, which was to remain neutral to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. This political stand would result in a wave of expatriate Jordanians coming back home.
Mulhim had also gone back to Jordan, and in 1992 he would set up his law practice. Along with his acquaintances he started to help fellow Jordanians resettle and adjust to the new realities. But with huge numbers of expats pouring into Jordan, the financial ability to support them soon became untenable.
It was then that Mulhim decided to change approach and strategy in his philanthropic efforts. In 1992, he would establish the Rehabilitation & Welfare Society to support those in immediate need, and also train people so they’d be able to find jobs and support themselves.
The new approach of doing philanthropic work was more sustainable as it gave people access to skills and markets. Such would help them support themselves instead of relying on charity. The Society continued to grow its scope of work and started also paying tuition for those who couldn’t afford to pay for universities or vocational schools. To this day, the Society's charitable work continues, with Mulhim’s eldest son Hazem, a successful entrepreneur today, leading it and restructuring it into a more organized and effective charity.
One of Mulhim's important contributions to Palestine is the publishing of a book that aggregated the many international voices exposing Israel’s human rights breaches and genocidal tendencies; with a focus on Israel's construction of the segregation wall. The book is comprehensive in details and educated quotations on how the segregation wall has breached international laws, causing a catastrophic impact on the livelihood of Palestinians; a clear breach of international law.